Unlike many other holidays, Veterans Day is not a day marked by commercialized festivities and gift giving. Rather, it is a day of remembrance for all veterans living or dead, who served our country during wartime or peacetime. Those over 65 may have served in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, or even World War II; younger veterans may also have seen service in the Gulf War that started in 1990 and continues to the present.
Honoring Seniors Who Are Veterans
According to VA statistics, there are about 23.2 million military veterans in the United States. Of these, about 9.2 million veterans are over the age of 65, which include 2.6 million who served during World War II, 2.8 million from the Korean War and 4 million from the Vietnam War or peacetime. New York is home to more than 1 million veterans.
For many seniors who are veterans, the memories of their time in the service are still strong. Even those who are now enmeshed in dementia often remember their wartime experiences as clearly as if it were yesterday. In any case, it is important to recognize and validate their memories, whether dominated by tales of fallen comrades and horrific situations or of a time where working together for a common goal yielded them good friends. Oftentimes, for family members, home healthcare service workers, or friends, this means listening to stories that the veteran may have told a hundred times before. It also means saying “Thank you,” as veteran service now and in times past enables us to live in freedom today.
Recognizing Late Onset PTSD
For some veterans, the memories are more than idealized war stories that show the limitations of the old cliché that “time heals all wounds.” Many older veterans even display delayed or increased service-related physical health problems. As many geriatric psychologists have found, veterans who served decades ago are now experiencing delayed post traumatic stress disorder as a result of their experiences and injuries received in combat. The VA notes that more than half of all veterans display signs of PTSD at some time as a result of memories of combat violence, the death of friends, feelings of guilt, or things that they witnessed or experienced. More recent veterans who exhibit symptoms such as nightmares or aggression are often directed to social services to help them process their experiences, whereas older veterans were not.
For older veterans who display delayed forms of PTSD, it is not too late to get help at the VA. Since many of these people grew up in an era where seeking help of psychological disorders was often regarded as a sign of weakness, family members and in-home healthcare workers must sometimes lovingly encourage the person to take advantage of these VA services.
SelectCare Serves Veterans
SelectCare of New York, which provides home healthcare services to many who have served in the armed forces, pays homage to all veterans. We strive to extend compassion to all in our care, and are particularly sensitive to veterans’ issues. As trained health professionals, we are attuned to changes in our clients’ behavior which might indicate late onset PTSD and will work with the families of our clients to help them reach out to the VA and other agencies who can help. For more information about our services or an in-home needs assessment, call us today at 212-505-3640 or contact us via our website.